HC Deb 19 February 1937 vol 320 cc1521-2W
Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action has been taken with regard to the proposals of the committee of thirteen set up by a resolution of the Council of the League of Nations, on 17th April, 1935, for the purpose of proposing measures to render the League of Nations Covenant more effective in the organisation of collective security; and whether he will consider the advisability of international co-operatior, and consultation upon the lines suggested?

Viscount Cranborne

This committee was set up by the Council as the result of the appeal by the French Government under Article XI, paragraph 2, of the Covenant, in connexion with the German rearmament law of 16th March, 1935. It was instructed to propose measures to render the Covenant more effective and in particular to define the economic and financial measures which might be applied to a State which endangered peace by the repudiation of its international obligations. The discussions of the committee were limited to the possibilities of action under Article XI and Article XIII of the Covenant. The committee appointed a legal sub-committee, and a sub-committee on economic and financial measures. The legal subcommittee expressed the opinion that action under Article XI and Article XIII might in proper cases consist of measures of an economic and financial character. They were unable to agree whether the negative vote of a State which had endangered peace by the unilateral repudiation of its international obligations could prevent the Council from taking the necessary decisions. The sub-committee on economic and financial measures drew up a useful report, though certain members of the committee were unable to accept it without important reservations.The committee could,.however, make no further progress until the question of the application of the rule of unanimity under Article XI was resolved, and, in the circumstances, it made no proposals to the Council.

The second part of the question does not, therefore, arise; but I would add that the question whether the rule of unanimity should in all cases be applicable under paragraph 1 of Article XI is now under consideration by the Committee on the application of the principles of the Covenant.